I was so excited to go to a bush lodge/luxury tented camp, and was very sorely disappointed. For the price paid vs. what we actually got, I do not see this as value for money. However, let me focus on all the good stuff first:
• The staff are wonderful, friendly, accommodating and helpful. No matter what, they will try their best with what they have to make you stay as special as possible. They are unobtrusive, but chat to guests, and tell great stories around the campfire at night.
• The hot water bottles in the bed at night (as it was mid-winter), was a super touch.
• Everything was neat and clean and in good working order.
• I loved the little detail on the table décor for each meal, and the effort the staff go to, to make the area attractive for meal times.
• The outside shower area is a treat, however, in winter, use in the middle of the day as it’s a bit cold otherwise!!
• When on game drives that were rather dull (the animals just did not want to be seen on this trip, and this CANNOT be blamed on the Lodge) the guides really tried to give additional information about trees, plants, scat/dung, birds and other interesting facts about the bush.
• The bush walk each morning was wonderful and an opportunity to learn about the small stuff. Our guides were knowledgeable and pointed out an abundance of interesting facts on the flora and smaller fauna.
• The food was wonderfully “presented” by Millita each day, delicious and homely, but I make further comments below.
• The sundowner game drives were lovely, and a really spectacular photo opportunity especially with stark leafless trees against the setting sun.
• For a camp that only runs on solar-power, I think that the lighting in the tents was great – you can read a book before you sleep!
The not-so-good stuff (and I will state here that I do understand the logistics of a bush camp and its “special needs”, however with a little creativity things can be done differently):
• There are no hangers or anywhere to hang any clothes, and when staying for longer than a night, it’s nice to unpack (there are only 2 hooks on the back of the door). I hung my stuff over the window flaps!
• There are no bedside tables or a spot to put your reading glasses or book or tissues
• It is vital that on each game drive an experienced tracker is taken, as the combination of driver/guide and tracker meant that we got to see more. Our less experienced guides tried their best and did a great job, however, an experienced tracker is exceptionally beneficial. (Sam, you are quite amazing!!)
• For the price we paid, at least there should have been decent coffee – French press coffee can still be made as it does not require power! Surely a few individual presses, and a choice of ground beans would add a little touch of class here.
• Having the same lemon creams for every snack is just not acceptable. What about rusks, or homemade cookies? These can easily be made in bulk and dry stored, especially if you can’t get out to buy goods regularly.
• I note some comments about snacks or extras – perhaps you need to state in a sign that due to “monkey business”, goodies are safely stored but always available to guests.
• Suggestion – the website needs to clearly state that you should not expect to be able to charge batteries or phone or anything as solar power only works for this if there are really sunny days and enough power has accumulated. I noted how some foreigners were not impressed by this, and neither was I, thank goodness I had enough battery life for my camera.
• The food was exceptionally plain to say the least. Although delicious and filled the spot, there was little variety or interest. Pasta in various forms for 3 meals is a bit too much! There was a variety of flavours, however, overall it just seemed boring, lacking creativity or any “zhoozhness” to it
Overall, unimpressed, will not return and think there are better options. For foreigners I can understand how this place is wonderful and special if they have not experienced the bush before. As a South African, I have experienced better for less.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Shindzela is an authentic tented bush camp situated in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, greater Kruger National Park. The camp accommodates a maximum of 16 guests and is unfenced, making it very much part of the wilderness. Shindzela is not built by an award winning architect, nor is it furnished by an interior designer. What you will find though, is a comfy bed, freshly laundered linen, and décor from local crafters and artists. Shindzela is a comfortable/rustic tented bush camp, where you can relax, enjoy our warm hospitality and immerse yourself in the African wilderness. We love our informal, relaxed atmosphere. Each safari tent is built on wooden decks, and has their own en-suite shower/toilet and hand basin. The camp also has a swimming pool and overlooks our little watering hole, from where you can watch animals come down to drink. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Shindzela Tented Safari Camp Hotel Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
- Shindzela Tented Safari Camp South Africa/Timbavati Private Nature Reserve